My Food Photography Studio and Gear: A Food Photographer’s Diary #4

This is a guest post series by photographer Evi Abeler. If you would like to write for learn food photography, visit guest post page to learn more.

This is fourth post in the food photographer’s diary series. In the first post, Evi shared how she got started and how you can start in food photography. In second post, we learned about food photography portfolio event. Third post was about first photography shoot for restaurant.

In this post, Evi invites us in her studio and shows us her photography gear.

My Food Photography Studio

You guessed it, I had to postpone the shot with the stylist again. Our target is now early May. In the meantime I have been busy photographing for the Harlem Restaurant and Retail month. You can check out some photos here and here’s my first restaurant video. I will give you a behind the scenes look of these shoots in a few weeks.

Today I thought it would be fun to show you where I work and what gear is around. I love to see other photographers’ set ups and what kind of stuff they use and I am sure you do too!

Studio

Evi Abeler Photostudio

The studio is about 220 square feet and has western exposure. There are a couple of light stands, umbrellas and soft boxes from Lastolite, a collapsible table, a step ladder and black and white paper seamless on an Manfrotto auto pole system. On the windows are movable “curtain panels” in opaque black, and translucent sand and white from IKEA. They are so useful to diffuse the afternoon sun or block out the light completely if necessary.

Evi Abeler Photostudio

The backside of the studio is not very pretty (yet). I am still working on it. Right now it is the storage area and my most favorite place to shoot: everything comes out fantastic on this windowsill, it functions like a huge soft box. Here is an example, no fill light, just my treasured windowsill in morning light:

Evi Abeler Photography clemetine jam

Gear

My parents used a Canon AE-1 when I grew up and I have been a Canonista ever since. I love the 5D Mark II for its full frame and video capabilities. The 100mm f/2.8 and 50mm f/1.4 lenses are my favorites and are sharp and stunning. At events I like the shoot with the 24-70mm f/2.8.

When daylight is not available I light everything from big scenes to tiny details with small flashes (Metz 54MZ-4 and Canon 580) I learned how to from the Strobist. When I shoot on location I can fit everything, including a 5 in 1 reflector in my backpack and just need to carry one extra bag with tripod and light stand. This is essential when on location without assistants or transportation budget.

When shooting in the studio the shoots can get more involved. I always prefer to shoot in daylight but when I need to imitate daylight I shoot my flash into a 6×4 feet V-flat that is to the side off the object and use a reflector as a fill. I can not live without my remote release and tethered set up with Apple’s MacBook and Aperture. It’s not as smooth as I would like it to be but it makes a huge difference to be able to see what you shot on a big screen. Since I would like to shoot more video work I got a Rode microphone.
Before every big shoot I clean my lenses, cameras and other gear with great care. It’s my meditation and preparation for the shot.

Oh, and of course there is my phone camera, which I use to snap and video when I am out and about. The quality is not great (as you can see above) but the convenience is unbeatable.

Props

My collection of props is still very small. A basic set of white plates from West Elm, silverware and fabrics that friends have given me and a couple of different surfaces like metal, wood and plastic, that I have found on the street. I am trying to keep my set ups as simple and inexpensive as possible. But, of course I am looking forward to a real shoot, with a real prop budget!

The Kitchen

Evi Abeler Photostudio

Here our very basic kitchen (By now you can definitely tell that I am new to food photography). I am hoping to renovate the kitchen next year…let’s see how the food photography business will go…

And then there is my office…always a bit more chaotic then I like it. I am working on an older MacBook with an Apple Display to the right, a small HP printer/scanner and lots of inspiration around. The back of the office is covered by bookshelves.

 

I set up the studio space last winter and have accumulated all the gear over the past 5 years, but of course you can never have enough…

On my wish list:

– kitchen with lots of character and island, I have been drooling over these.
– a chalk/magnetic wall in my office
16-35mm f/2.8, 50mm, f/1.2…and the tilt-shift lenses of course
– fabric backgrounds
– different wood surfaces
cooking class
awesome cookbook collection!

 

What’s on your wish list?…dream a little!

So long,
Evi

  • Laurence Perfecto

    i’m at the stage too of accumulating food photography tools. so far, aside from getting new lenses, my favorite thing to collect has been the props and making my own surfaces. there is definitely a wonderful sense of success when you make something out of your own hands or finding the perfect prop from a pile of others. i do wish that i have a studio like yours with all the equipment! i don’t even have an external flash so i am always inclined to shoot with natural light. 🙂 but no complaints here!

    • Evi

      Hi Laurence, I think natural light is the best for food. If you want to get into off camera flash I would highly recommend starting with simple speed lights. They are affordable, easy to store and transport, and less intimidating as the big guns. Check out: Strobist:lighting 101 (http://strobist.blogspot.com/2006/03/lighting-101.html)

  • I also recommend the strobist website for learning how to produce great results from small, inexpensive flashes.

  • Yuri Arcurs is a successful (arguably the best) microstock photographer, not specifically a food photographer. Check out this video tour of his new studio. Pay attention to the kitchen scene complete with mobile island. Try not to drool on your keyboard 🙂

  • Evi,

    Thanks for sharing the setup, the gear and the studio. Lovely place you have. I am new member on this site and love it like anything. It’s amazing with the interviews and posts such as this. Very interesting.

    Keep it up. By the way your journal is worth the visit and read.

  • Steve

    Thanks for the info on your studio,
    Right at the moment I am considering renovating an area by my pool to be a dedicated food studio. Problem as always is the budget but hey you can only dream. What I love about food photography is that you really do not need a lot of space, nearly all my shots are close up and personal so backgrounds are almost always in bokeh, and I find that the immediate props are far more important than extensive lighting equipment. My equipment is almost the same as yours as is the wish list although I don’t think you will use the 16-35 very much. Do you find the western light an issue?

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